New professional women's soccer league to launch in US in 2024, Indy on list of franchise locations

Indy Eleven
Posted at 9:25 AM, May 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-17 20:50:55-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A new women’s soccer league kicking off in August of 2024 will have ties to Indianapolis.

The USL Super League will enter the fold at an equal ranking to the already existing National Women’s Soccer League.

"Our aim is to significantly expand opportunities in women’s soccer through strategic growth, build a pathway that connects talent with opportunity, and engage communities by celebrating a universal passion for the game expressed through local culture," Super League President Amanda Vandervort said in a statement.

The league has eight planned franchise ownership groups in Charlotte, Dallas, Lexington, Phoenix, Spokane, Tampa Bay, Tuscon and Washington D.C.

Indianapolis is one of five franchises this will join pending stadium agreements.

"Right now there is only one that would be called Division 1 Top Tier League in the United States, it's the NWSL - The National Women's Soccer League," Indy Eleven CEO Greg Stremlaw tells WRTV. "This will be another league at that same level launching across 10-12 communities in 2024 and 2025."

Most of the cities will start their season next year, but Indianapolis and four other markets will start in 2025, after construction of the new stadium is finished.

"It's all about opportunity an this is going to be a creator of jobs for coaches, for technical administrators, for medical personnel and of course, for professional female athletes," Stremlaw said.

Molly Kruger-Sanford knows first hand how hard those opportunities for professional female athletes can be, especially in soccer. She's played soccer since she was five years old and went on to play in college and then professionally in Los Angeles.

"When I went out there the women's league had actually folded and so it was the highest level you could play but we weren't getting paid," Kruger-Sanford said. "It was incredible to continue my dream of playing soccer post college so I thought it was a great opportunity to continue playing."

The women who will be playing in the new league will be getting paid, which is something Kruger-Sanford says is a big step in the right direction for women's sports.

"It shows young girls growing up playing soccer that it doesn't end here and we can continue chasing our dreams and playing in front of thousands of people and it's not just a mans world," she said.

Indy Eleven announced their commitment to the new league on Wednesday.

“I could not be more excited to bring the USL Super League to Indiana,” Indy Eleven Founder and Chairman Ersal Ozdemir said. “Our focus and commitment to women’s soccer was part of our vision and mission from day one. To create opportunities for girls and women in soccer is so important and we have been driven to, not only, provide those opportunities but to do so at the highest level. The USL Super League launching as a First Division, Top Tier, Elite major league puts it on par with the top levels of soccer across the globe. Our national team consistently dominates on the world stage, and we are invested in solidifying the foundation of soccer in the United States and in Indiana to make sure we continue to develop next level talent. I’m thrilled to have Indy Eleven play such an important part of this growth.”

The new league said it hopes to close the “opportunity gap” between men’s and women’s professional soccer in the United States.

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The founding cities have a goal to be sanctioned by the U.S. Federation as Tier 1, meaning they would be on the same level professionally as the National Women's Soccer League.

The Indy Eleven stadium is still on schedule to be built by 2025.